As women get older there is one thing that usually starts playing on their minds, but it’s a topic that may not be spoken about as often, or as openly, as it should be.  We are of course talking about the menopause.

In 2017, Superdrug conducted its first ever #LifePlus 50+Beauty Report, where we asked our customers their view on ageing and on life. In the latest report we wanted to consider the views of those over 40, not only women who are already experiencing ageing and the menopause, but those who are approaching it too.

Of the 1,000+ ladies we spoke to, 50% off them who were yet to experience it were worried about approaching menopause. If you are unsure or worried about what happens at this point of your life as well, here is what you need to know about what the menopause is and its symptoms.

What is the menopause?

The menopause is when a woman stops having her periods and can no longer naturally conceive a baby; it’s a natural part of ageing. It will usually occur between the ages of 45 and 55, as a women’s oestrogen levels start to decline. The average age in the UK for women to reach the menopause is 51, however around 1 in 100 women will experience it before they’re 40.  It’s impossible to put an exact date on it occurring as every woman and her body is different to the next.

What are the symptoms?

Most women will experience menopausal symptoms, which can vary in degree of severity. Of the ladies we spoke to, hot flushes topped the list of symptoms which worried them the most with 68% of our post-menopausal participants saying they suffered with them at some point.

The top 10 symptoms that worried our pre-menopausal women where:

  1. Hot flushes
  2. Weight gain
  3. Mood swings
  4. Depression
  5. Anxiety
  6. Hair loss/ thinning
  7. Sleep disorders
  8. Fatigue
  9. Incontinence
  10. Memory lapses

Other symptoms may include a loss of sex drive, vaginal dryness, tight muscles, aching joints, palpitations, UTI’s and reduced muscle mass.

Gradual process. Beautiful mature woman touching sweater and having hot flash

How to manage symptoms

Hormone replacement therapy

A common preventative measure for the symptoms of the menopause is hormone replacement therapy or HRT.  This involves taking oestrogen to replace the declining amount in the body and can relieve many of the symptoms.  HRT comes in a number of forms including tablets, skin patches, gels to rub into the skin or as an implant. HRT must be prescribed by your doctor and will only be considered after a consultation to discuss the risks and benefits.

If HRT is not for you, there are a number of ways to manage common symptoms:

If you suffer from hot flushes

As the most frequent offender amongst the women we spoke with, it may be surprising to hear that by taking some simple measures you can help calm the effects of hot flushes and also night sweats. This includes wearing lighter clothes, keeping your bedroom cool at night and avoiding triggers such as smoking, drinking alcohol and eating spicy foods.

If you are having mood swings

Some women may experience mood swings, feeling low or anxious while going through the menopause.  These feelings can be managed with some self-help measures including getting plenty of rest, exercising regularly and trying activities such as yoga.

Smiling mature woman with arms raised doing yoga. Fit female is sitting by exercise equipment on rug. She is wearing sports clothing at home.

If your hair is falling out or becoming thin

In the months, or even years, leading up to the menopause women may notice a change in their hair pattern including a reduction in its volume, condition or the amount which falls out when its washed or brushed.  If you notice a change in your hair try reducing the amount of heated tools you use (straighteners, hair dryer etc) or try a topical hair treatment to strengthen your hair.

Finally, remember to look after your health in general

Give your body the nutritional support it needs and help alleviate some of the symptoms by eating a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly and by adding multivitamins and minerals to your day to day routine.

If you are finding your symptoms particularly troublesome, or you simply need advice on the menopause, then be sure to make an appointment with your GP.